Life Lately | Early June 2024

Hello readers out there!

The soggy Big Thicket

Life has been very busy lately. I didn’t realize most moms/parents felt like May was a chaotic nightmare until I started seeing other mom’s posting memes about “Maycember” (all the business of the holidays but no presents) and the end of school and I feel very much seen. May zoomed by quickly and now it’s June 3rd and I can already see the end of summer because we have basically every single week planned out until the first day of school in early August. I know…it’s a lot. Forest has two summer camp weeks this year, compared to the three previous summers when he’s gone to the school district’s summer camp for the majority of the summer. This summer he’s spending a month at two sets of grandparents, spread out in one week sessions throughout the summer. Then we’re taking a significant vacation trip in July (more on that after the trip!) and a few short weeks and then school starts again.

The other big item is: I’m writing a book! I mean, I have already written one book that I don’t know will ever be published (more on that in a minute), but I’m writing an actual book that *will* be published because I signed a contract with the University of Georgia Press to write a hiking guide to the Big Thicket ecoregion! It came about because I pitched the first book to the press (and many other presses) back in the fall and it turns out I’d missed my opportunity for that book with UGA because they’d just signed another trail memoir the week before. Drat! But the editor emailed back asking if I was interested in doing any kind of hiking guide for Florida, which I had to reply back and let him down to not only was I not living in Florida any longer but I personally knew the people who write the majority of the hiking guides for the Florida Trail/Florida. Then I casually pitched an generic east Texas hiking book, possibly a Houston hiking book, knowing that it was likely to fall flat because Texas isn’t that close to Georgia. Well, it turns out they had acquired a smaller hiking press, Milestone Press, a few years ago and were looking to add to their list and not only that but UGA and Texas A&M and UT were all in the same college sports conference now so it was much more feasible that Texas and Georgia were connected now. So, I took a few months to put together a book proposal, finally settling on the Big Thicket region because the last book published about the BT was well over a decade ago and most of the people who wrote any of the books on the Big Thicket are dead or very old. Then they took a few months to review it and approve it with their group and then sent me a contract, which I mulled over for another two months and talked to some authors I know about it. I mean, this isn’t a money making venture here! I suppose it could be if I didn’t have a full-time job and was actually constantly working on books of some sort, but it doesn’t take much looking to see that traditional publishing is a very difficult industry to make a living. There’s no big advance check coming my way—no advance check in fact! So, I’ll be hitting y’all up on pre-orders sometime in 2026 so I can make those teeny royalties and maybe earn back some gas money! I’m only half jesting–it’s a slog but one that I’m enjoying and knowing full well where I stand with the book. Plus, I get to hike and write about trails, which is really fun! And take photos! Right now a significant portion of my feature area is either under water, has storm damage, or is closed due to either or both options. I’ll just be glad to get it out into the world when it comes to fruition.

A large part of putting this book together is also reading some of the books that have been written over the years about the Big Thicket. I have a stack of out of print books I’ve been buying off Abe Books and need to work my way through those. What’s depressing is just seeing how much has changed out there since the Thicket was made a National Preserve in 1974, the same day at Big Cypress. Looking on aerial imagery shows you how fragmented it all is. There’s been recent talk about BTNP expanding its footprint via some of the timber lands as those companies may be interested in selling off land to the federal government, which would be really great if they can make it happen. Otherwise it’s going to be sold to developers, especially as state and federal road projects take off this decade and in coming decades in that region. That Big Thicket way of life is going to disappear even faster.

So, yeah, that’s where my head has been for months and especially now as I really try to make plans to knock off hikes on my list that needs to be accomplished. My other thing is evaluating what I’m doing and asking: Do I really want to do this project/random thing or am I doing it because it’s an easy dopamine hit, the lowest apple on the tree, or because it is a distraction from the real thing I want to focus on. This can mean anything from replying to idiot posts on various social media to doing a creative project that distracts from an actual project I have been wanting to do for whatever amount of time it’s been on my brain. Some of this is prompted by parts of the book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals that a reader, Kate, recommended to me. I only got about a third in when I had to return it and get back on the library’s kindle list to borrow it again, but it gave me enough food for thought to knock me back on some kind of track.

I’ll do a book report update sometime in June. I’m working my way through a few books right now. As for other distractions, this spring I watched all 9 seasons of Suits, which was surprisingly good! And then I saw Gabriel Macht in one of the first episodes of Sex and the City the other night and had to do a double take because damn was he young! I mean, it was 1998, I was young, too! Sex and the City does not hold up…at least it seems that first season. I started watching because I wanted something on while editing photos but it’s kinda cringe! I ended up switching to Killing Eve and that has been a good decision! Spy/assassin thrillers are right up my alley!

Milkweed tussok moth caterpillars in the garden

I’m also determined to get the garden into shape this summer but my will is starting to fade on that. Truly would just like the energy I had in my early 30s back.

I actually had more to write but I started this before kid bedtime and now it is after kid bedtime and Killing Eve is calling me as is my own bedtime, so I’ll have to return for another brain dump post soon!

Tell me what you are reading, watching, and doing outdoors these days in the comments!


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